Comics : Spider-Man: Dead Man's Hand

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Filling Gaps

This review was first published on: 2009.

Background...

A one-shot released a short time after Ben Reilly's death (Peter Parker Spider-Man #75) features Peter as Spider-Man vs the 3rd Carrion. This issue aims to clarify the origins of the first Carrion which has become very confusing up to this point. To summarize...

Carrion I was said to be a Miles Warren clone that "aged beyond death" due to the clone casket malfunctioning as revealed in Spectacular Spider-man (vol. 1) #31. Later in Spectacular Spider-Man (vol. 1) annual #8 the High Evolutionary claimed that Miles Warren never made clones at all but were existing humans infected by a genetic virus that transformed them into near duplicates. Carrion II who appeared to be another clone was eventually revealed to be a student named Malcolm McBride who was exposed to the virus. Then in Scarlet Spider Unlimited #1 the High Evolutionary backpedaled revealing that Miles Warren did create clones but that he altered Warren's journals to hide this.

All this flip flopping lead to the question of whether Carrion I was a clone or someone else infected/transformed by the virus. So if you care about all this then read on!

In Detail...

Spider-Man: Dead Man's Hand
Apr 1997 : SMURF 000.500 : SM Title
Editor:  Tom Brevoort
Plot:  Roger Stern
Writer:  Joe Edkin
Pencils:  Dan Lawlis, Darick Robertson
Inker:  Keith Aiken
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Articles: Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Robertson, Joe "Robbie", Tinkerer

The story opens at S.H.I.E.L.D.'s biohazard facility where an accident engulfs Dr. William Allen in flames transforming him into Carrion.

Two weeks later, while in town Peter overhears a police car's radio that a riot involving Carrion is in progress. Peter quickly suits up and while swinging recalls his history with the two previous Carrions. Upon arrival he discovers that this new Carrion has infected a crowd of people turning them into zombies under his control, an ability neither of the previous Carrions had. After a short scuffle, Carrion escapes.

S.H.I.E.L.D. helicopters arrive to subdue the zombies. Spidey leaps into one of the helicopters and is taken to a nearby command post. The officer in charge tells Spidey that Dr. Allen had been studying the corpse of the Jackal (who died in the Maximum Clonage Omega one-shot). While doing so Allen was transformed into the new Carrion and S.H.I.E.L.D. don't have a cure for this new Carrion induced zombie plague.

Suddenly, the Tinkerer with gun in hand appears out of nowhere demanding answers. Spidey easily disarms him and the Tinkerer reveals that his son is one of the infected plague victims being quarantined inside the command post. The Tinkerer tries to escape but Spidey grabs him only to fall through a wall with him.

In actuality they have been transported to the Tinkerer's lab by a teleportation system he constructed. Spidey uses the system to teleport to Wundagore where he tries to convince the High Evolutionary to help find a cure. The Jackal as Miles Warren had based his work on what he learned from the High Evolutionary (as revealed in Scarlet Spider Unlimited #1) and thus as Spidey points out the High Evolutionary is partially responsible. Unconvinced, the High Evolutionary zaps Peter back to his home.

Frustrated, Peter suddenly realizes that the High Evolutionary only altered information related to cloning and not the Carrion virus. He finds one of Miles Warren's unaltered journals concerning the original Carrion virus and teleports back to the Tinkerer's lab. Spidey instructs the Tinkerer to get the journal to S.H.I.E.L.D. in hopes that it may help them find a cure. Spidey then swings off for his final encounter with Carrion on top of the Empire State Building.

Spidey and Carrion fight. It is evident that neither personality of Allen or Warren has taken full control of Carrion's body as they disagree on how to handle Spider-Man. Warren does fully take over briefly and conveniently tells Spidey the true origin of the first Carrion. As the personalities continue to fight for control Spidey easily punches Carrion unconscious. Spidey delivers him to S.H.I.E.L.D. who keep him in stasis in hopes of finding a cure and transforming him back into Dr. Allen. He has yet to make another appearance in the comics.

In General...

There's a brief flashback to Spider-Man's origin as Peter reminisces and is reassured by MJ. It's a nice moment and a good recap for the new reader. However, this isn't a one-shot that's well suited for a new reader as it refers back to older clone saga issues.

It reconfirms that the original Carrion was a clone of Miles Warren and that the High Evolutionary altered Warren's journals to hide the truth of cloning. It also adds that the first Carrion was specifically made to contain the virus but the body was released prematurely as opposed to simply a malfunctioning clone casket as in the original origin. Further adding to the confusion is the High Evolutionary's claim that he engineered a second Carrion with false memories to hide the truth (this makes no sense assuming he's referring to Malcolm McBride who initially believed himself to be a clone of Warren).

Overall Rating...

2 webs. Good art but doesn't work as a stand alone story. Carrion III ends up being a real pushover and the new revelations about the original Carrion turn out to be unnecessary only adding to the confusion and contradicting previous stories.